Uh oh: Top NRSC lawyer headed to Alaska to advise Murkowski?


Sean Cairncross, the general counsel of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, is headed to Alaska at the request of Sen. Lisa Murkowski to help provide guidance to the GOP incumbent finds herself trailing attorney Joe Miller by roughly 1,600 votes…

Committee sources insisted that too much should not be read into Cairncross’ presence in Alaska — only that the NRSC is an incumbent-retention committee and, as such, provides assistance when Senators ask for it.

As evidence that the committee is not putting all of its chips on Murkowski, a GOP source tells the Fix that Rob Jesmer, the bespectacled executive director of the NRSC, spoke by phone with a top Miller aide yesterday — making clear that if he wins the election the committee will support him wholeheartedly.

Let me get this straight. After taking loads of abuse from the grassroots for endorsing Charlie Crist before Rubio’s campaign got off the ground, and with Murkowski already pointedly refusing to rule out a third-party bid if Miller’s (shrinking) lead holds up, John Cornyn and the NRSC are … sending their top lawyer to help her out? And framing it explicitly in terms of retaining incumbents? Do they really have no idea of how bitterly ferocious the backlash will be among the Republican base — especially, but not only, among Palin’s supporters — if they’re seen as tilting the election to Murkowski? And how embarrassing it’ll be if they try to do so and fail and then get knifed in the back when she bolts to run as a libertarian?

In fact, didn’t Cornyn vow last year, after the Crist debacle, that they’d be staying out of contested primaries from now on? Why should that promise apply only to financial contributions instead of to in-kind contributions like legal services too? What am I missing here?

Update: Ace argues that this is much ado about nothing, and surely represents some sort of attempt by the NRSC to make a deal with Murkowski to get her to drop out. To be clear, though, I’m not suggesting that they’re trying to get her to run as a libertarian; I’m suggesting that they may be advising her on how to challenge the primary results via a recount, court battle, etc. That’s why I mentioned them getting knifed in the back if they try to help her win the primary and fail.